Cockpit Chronicles: How to park a 757

So you just bought yourself a 757. Congratulations are certainly in order. But when you approach the gate in Aruba for your well deserved vacation, you find no one to guide you in. They’re all just standing around waiting for you to line up your shiny new ride.

Fortunately you’ve read this blog just in time. Usually when you approach a gate, you’ll have someone from the ground crew who will guide you into the gate with wands and tell you when to stop. But let’s take a look at how to self park at a gate with an automated parking system. The version seen here in Aruba is one of the earliest types used. But this tip will also come in handy in Miami and soon JFK where they’re installing even more advanced versions. These things are popping up all over the country.

As you can see in the pictures below, there is a small box right in front of the airplane with two vertical lights (A). If you’re centered, both lights will be green. Move off to the right and the right light will turn red. So you simply position the airplane until you see two green lights that indicate you’re on the centerline.

To stop, look over to the right at the black board (B). Now just line up the lighted florescent tube (shut off in the photo below, after the jump) with the line that notes the airplane you’re flying.

How to:

Today’s flight was just a one day trip, also known as a ‘turn.’ Leave Boston in the morning for a 4 1/2 flight down to Aruba, sit around for an hour and then fly home. The total flight time is 9 1/2 hours. Any flights over 8 hours in a day requires a relief pilot which allows for each of us to get an hour break on each leg of the flight. We take the breaks back in the first class cabin which usually results in some strange “who’s flying the plane?” looks.

Oh, and for the ‘photo of the trip,’ it’s a sunset shot off the left side of the airplane that we often get while on the way home from the Caribbean. I usually take a nice picture of the captain when this happens, but I was sitting in the left seat at this point in the flight while el Jefe was back resting. So I had to be the one in the picture. Thanks to Dave the co-pilot for snapping this.

For the next trip, I’ll show you how to go to London and back without experiencing any jet lag whatsoever.